Adhere to internal document controls says Gov, if we ever hope to get off "high risk" status
Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga is hopeful that all agencies overseeing federal programs will install a report 'tickler system' to ensure required grant reports are filed on time and fully compliant with grant stipulations.
A tickler system is a collection of date-labeled file folders organized in a way that allows time-sensitive documents to be filed according to the future date on which each document needs action. According to the letter sent by the governor to members of the High Risk Task Force, the tickler system is one material area the USDOE raised concerns about during their visit.
The USDOE noted that because there are still numerous deficiencies the local government has not addressed when it comes to U.S. Department of Education grant funds, its “high risk” grantee status remains.
According to the letter, the governor said he has received genuine expressions of appreciation and laudatory comments from the USDOE Team who came to assess the High Risk Status “for the obvious seriousness and commitment by our administration to abate past practices which invoked citation and designation of high risk.”
The governor commended the Treasurer and his staff for aggressive leadership focusing on "upgrading and improving the integrity of our financial systems" to ensure that all transactions are properly accounted for, along with ensuring that internal controls are fully implemented. “I have worked in the government long enough to recall problems of the past stemming from failure to properly train systems operators as well as systems users," said the governor.
“Moreover, we often tend to be aggressive at the outset and then start slacking off with regard to vigilance to ensure full adherence to our systems of internal controls. We may establish great systems, however, if the system operators fail to practice constant alertness with regard to sticking to established system protocols, we will find ourselves addressing the same high risk issues we are attempting to mitigate today,” said Governor Lolo.
The governor noted systems challenges and system fragmentation are consequences of systems not functioning and often signal the existence of a definite disconnect among all the agencies of ASG and their operating systems.
“It is imperative therefore, that we should commit to holding forums in which all agencies of the government are fully informed and trained on established systems of internal controls.”
He urged the Treasury Department to conduct these forums for all agencies so they are well indoctrinated in the systems upgrade and particularly in the system of internal controls.
The governor noted he urges the Task Force to explain to all agencies of the government concerns raised by the USDOE, so they are aware of control issues which they need to be mindful of in the administration of federal grant programs under their agency purview.
Lolo said if this system is not already developed, he would like to see one developed as soon as possible given this is a material area of concern for USDOE and other Federal Grantors.
In March this year, Lolo appointed a new seven-member high risk task force, chaired by the Governor’s Legal Counsel, Steven Watson. Other members of the team include Treasurer Dr Falema’o Phil Ma’o, DOH Director Motusa Nua, DOE Director Vaitinasa Salu Hunkin Finau, HR Director Sonny Thompson, Budget Director Cathy Aigamaua Saelua, Property Management Director, Miumata Malo and Coordinator Jerome Ierome.
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